by Bob Geary
Isn't the Wake County Board of Education supposed to be non-partisan -- meaning, above (outside of?) politics? Well, if you believe that....
Anyway, and as promised, the Wake Republicans met last night and endorsed a slate of four candidates, one each in the District 1.2,7 and 9 elections. (The other five school board members' terms expire two years hence.)
In three cases, the GOP picks are the same as the Wake Schools Community Alliance -- no surprise, since both groups are gunning to kill the school board's diversity policy.
Only in District 7 (North Raleigh-Northwest Wake) do the GOP and WSCA diverge. There, the Republicans endorsed Jerry Ballan, not the WSCA's favorite, Deborah Prickett. The third candidate in the race, Karen Simon, was accompanied when she filed to run by Wake Democratic Chairman Jack Nichols, not incidentally. (The incumbent, Republican Patti Head, a diversity supporter, isn't seeking re-election.)
In District 2 (Southeast Wake), interestingly, the GOP and WSCA both endorsed John Tedesco over Cathy Truitt, a retired school teacher and principal. Truitt's balanced views on diversity vs. neighborhood schools, spelled out in an interview with the Garner Citizen, didn't help her, obviously. The three other candidates in this district include incumbent Horace Tart, who backs diversity.
The two remaining races, in District 1 (Northeast Wake) and District 9 (Cary-Western Wake) now pit GOP -&- WSCA-backed candidates against diversity-supporting aspirants.
In District 1, where incumbent Lori Millberg is stepping aside, the anti-diversity candidate is Chris Malone, with Rita Rakestraw on the other side. (Debbie Vair is the third candidate.)
And in District 9, where incumbent Eleanor Goettee isn't running again, Debra Goldman has the GOP and WSCA endorsements, with Lois Nixon on the other side. (Ray Martin is the third candidate.)
By the way, I'm using pro- and anti-diversity as shorthand, obviously. If you check Tedesco's website, for example, he says he's pro-diversity too, he just doesn't think school populations need to be made diverse by assignment policies. And on the other side, the pro-diversity candidates recognize that, notwithstanding the school board's stated goal of no more than 40 percent low-income students (i.e., those eligible for "free or reduced lunch") in any school, numerous schools are over the 50 percent "F&R" line already -- with housing as economically stratified as it is in Wake County, the busing that would be required to achieve the 40 percent goal countywide would be virtually impossible.